Thursday, August 18, 2011

Using Art Therapy to Help Create a Patient Attitude


My Art Therapy Studio being repaired.

Do you have a hard time waiting? Our house is undergoing renovations due to a crack in the foundation. It was supposed to be a quick three-week job starting June 20th, but surprise, surprise it will not be done until the first week of September. I have lost my therapy space and have had to work in a make shift studio space in our garage. It’s okay, on most days. On other days it has been frustrating, maddening, interesting, boring and irritating waiting for each job to be completed so I can get my Art Therapy Studio back and return “home”.

How are you at waiting? I have always found it difficult. I was born in a car, on the way to the hospital and the story that my mother told was that I was too impatient to wait until we arrived at the hospital. She used to call me “Little Miss Impatience.” A name I hated. Was I impatient or was this her projection? Are some people better at waiting than others or is this a trait we all need to learn?

Patience is the ability to endure difficulty without feeling negative or adverse emotions.  I believe most people don’t find it easy to be patient. In our world of instant gratification patience is not always valued. But, we do need to develop the ability to be patient because we don’t always get instant results. Patience does need to be cultivated and nurtured.

So how do we use Art Therapy to transform lagging hours where we experience frustration and anger into a time of relaxation and peaceful waiting?

  1. Figure out why the situation is irritating or frustrating. We tend to lose our patience when we have expectations of when we think events should be done or occur and we can’t control the time line; when we have little or no confidence in the people performing the task that has to be done; or when we have overscheduled ourselves and realize that we can’t complete all the tasks that we expected we could. We may be stretching ourselves too thin and then becoming impatient with our inability to accomplish the impossible. Paint or draw the last situation in which you were impatient.
  2. Identify the triggers. I know that I hate waiting for someone who is late. I release the tension by making sure that I have something that I can do that will productively fill the waiting time. I carry a book that I can read. Add the triggers that caused your impatience to your painting.
  3. I notice the first signs of feeling anxious, worried, or unhappy so that I can identify the underlying cause of these feelings which may be impatience. To reduce the frequency of impatience, it helps to be aware of it. Which events, people, phrases or circumstances always seem to influence you to lose your cool? Add the emotions you felt and where in your body you felt them to your painting.
  4. Look for patterns. Ask yourself if this circumstance is simply not healthy and do you need to change it? Add three other times you experienced this pattern (if there was three times) to your painting.
  5. Remember that things take time. If you are really efficient, be thankful, but remember that not everyone is. With our house, it has been helpful to remember that it is typical for people to not show up on time, jobs to take longer than expected, mistakes to be made and that may have started out as a simple repair can turn into a complicated mess.  Expect the unexpected. Add a list of what you could control in this situation and a list of what was out of your control to your painting.
  6. Last but not least, a frustrating situation as this one, waiting for a house to be repaired by several different crews who are not working together, is a great opportunity to learn patience. Create a symbol of patience to add to your painting.


5 comments:

grrl + dog said...

oohh yes!
yoga helped me to surrender to the rhythm of whtever it was, and to let go.

also i learned to be still... only took about 45 years...

Karen Wallace said...

Thanks for dropping in. Yeah, it has taken me most of my life, and I am still learning. Hugs Karen

ladaisi said...

So sorry for all the waiting and renovations! But just imagine how wonderful and relaxing it'll all be once finished!

I've been having trouble waiting lately too - I've been living out of a suitcase for a month and I want to unpack and kick back in my own place!

The Creative Beast said...

I agree that learning patience is a long lost virtue in this instant gratification world we now live in, but I, too, have my struggles with patience from time to time. I think your lists will help me with patience in the future though =-)

Carole said...

Hi Karen. This is getting shared on my Facebook page!!

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Karen Wallace M.Ed. BCATR is an art therapist, artist, and art instructor living and working in Regina SK. Canada. She has a private practice with adults and children and specializes in depression, trauma, life transition and abuse work. She facilitates art therapy, creativity and art groups. She teaches internationally. She shows her mixed media art in galleries in Regina, Victoria B.C. and the Gulf Islands. Karen is known for her enthusiastic and dynamic teaching style. Her workshops are rich, playful and creative. Karen’s art work is a reflection of her art therapy work. She expresses her love of nature, her practice of Buddhism and her family in her art. Web site: www.islandnet.com/~kwallace